Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vivat Wikipedia!

Crow gathering at Laxenburg, Austria, December 2006
I have a love/hate relationship with Wikipedia.  On the one hand, it makes my job as a college educator very difficult, because the current generation thinks that Wikipedia is a one-stop shop for all your research needs.  I found out the limitations of Wikipedia as a research tool in 2006, when I was writing a paper for a 4000-level German class.  Frederick the Great was one of the main characters in the book I had chosen to write about (Das Odfeld - Odin’s Field - by Wilhelm Raabe.  Fabulous read - just downloaded it for free in German on Kindle! here’s a slideshow of the plot by German high school students).  The English Wikipedia article at that time focused solely on his sexuality (this has now been reduced to a section). Despite my warnings, my students tend to rely too much on Wikipedia and internet sources in general. 

Another kind of piracy -
Byron's autograph on the temple of Poseidon at Sounion
But Wikipedia and other shared websites have legitimate uses!  For example, if you happen to have been born on January 22, you share a birthday with Lord Byron, Rasputin, and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (while we’re on the topic of German literature, make sure you read the “Three Ring Parable,”  one of my all-time favorite stories).  Telly Savalas and Heath Ledger both died on January 22, Roe vs. Wade was decided, and David Bowie came out as bisexual. 

Websites like YouTube and Vimeo can show you wonders such as the dangers of deep fat frying turkeys (a specialty in Louisiana),  "Sir" Oliver Mally (the greatest!! Austrian blues musician), or a murmuration of starlings, which still gives me chills - the kind I imagine Magister Buchius experienced when he saw the battle of ravens over Odin's Field.

"Sir" Oliver Mally - Buy his albums!

The internet is an information junkie’s Nirvana.  And if you’re reading this post, you’ve learned something today because the law allowed me to share it.  Vivat Wikipedia, Stop SOPA/PIPA and God bless America!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this blog! I gotta be here more often! Laura M.